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Six months after the first Covid case was detected in Portugal, a new set of coronavirus related rules is underway as from September 15, when the entire country will most likely return to a State of Calamity, leaving the lighter State of Alert, in place since June.

The decision is taken because of the significant changes this month with the holidays over and an expected increase in the use of public transport, inevitable with people returning to work and children to school.

Until now, only in the Lisbon and Tagus Valley the State of Calamity prevailed with tighter rules than throughout the rest of the country in terms of how many people can meet in a group and business opening times.

Referring to the arrival of colder weather in the autumn, the Minister for the Presidency Mariana Vieira da Silva declared: ‘What we have been seeing is an increase in the number of corona cases, both in our country and in the countries around us. The government cannot remain indifferent to this increase.’

In practise this means continuation of the general measures of the Alert State – physical distance, hand hygiene and the use of masks in public services and transport.
In addition the rules of the State of Calamity are going to apply across the entire country, such as closing at 8 pm of commercial establishments (supermarkets at 10 pm), fuel supply, clinics, offices, pharmacies and funeral homes; prohibition on selling alcohol at service stations and gatherings limited to 10 people.

Immigrants, including asylum seekers, with pending applications at the borders agency SEF (Serviço de Estrangeiros e Fronteiras) and whose legislation has been held up by the pandemic, will see their rights extended until March 2021, granting them full access to the National Health Service, welfare benefits and rental contracts.

In the meantime, the Banco Alimentar contra Fome (Food Bank) – the NGO that feeds people who cannot feed themselves – reported that the pandemic has seen demand on its services increase with at least 60,000 (from 380,000 to 440,000).

Stay healthy                 Fique saudável                        (pic público/economist)